August 6, 2009

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Jersey Boys Chicago Cast Member Jared Bradshaw!

August 6th, 2009

Jared Bradshaw
Jared Bradshaw

We’re delighted to present our third in a series of JERSEY BOYS Chicago cast interviews! Today’s interview is with swing cast member Jared Bradshaw! Jared talks about his early days and influences in musical theatre, the excitement and challenges of being a JB swing cast member, his favorite parts of the show, and many other surprises!

JBB: Hey, Jared! Great to meet you!! How’s everything been going?

JB: I hurt my calf muscle, hadn’t used any sick days until last week. So, today I’m back in the show as a thug, so I could be sort of scruffy today with my beard.

JBB: Scruffy, but dashing!

JB: Well, thank you, thank you! (chuckled)

JBB: So, Jared, tell us about your beginnings in musical theatre. Who were your influences?

JB: This is an interesting question. My dad is a Baptist minister, so I grew up in church singing. My mom is an amazing soprano. She would always call us to dinner, (Jared sang in his finest soprano)–‘Jared, time for dinnnnner!’ (chuckled)

So, we were always singing at church or at home. She got me to audition for musical theatre at our community theatre when I was 11. We did The Music Man; she played the mayor’s wife and I had a bit part in the chorus. Then, I got to do Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, The Fantasticks, Little Shop of Horrors– all these great classic shows.

JBB: Where did you grow up?

JB: Just south of Atlanta, it’s called McDonald, Georgia. My southern accent will come out when I’m relaxed.

That’s how I got started. My parents sent me to school, I got a BFA in musical theatre and been doing it since I’ve been 11—and I just turned 30 yesterday.

JBB: Happy belated birthday! This is the BIG ONE—Look where you are!

JB: It’s great; I’m having a blast! I’ve been here for nine months now. I’ve never swung before. I’d been doing a show in New York called Forbidden Broadway; we’d been parodying Jersey Boys and everything else.

When I got the audition, I said, ‘Swing, in Jersey Boys? I think that’d be a good enough job to leave this little off-Broadway show paying me peanuts.’ (Chucked)

So, I did it. I left and came out here, and it’s been a major challenge, but it’s funny, after about a month or two, it was like okay…

When I got here and saw the guys sitting backstage, you guys are just waiting to go on, studying your parts. But once you learn them, you learn them.

JBB: You said that it’s been a major challenge. How so?

JB: It’s like every night is opening night, especially if you play six roles. And, I’ve just become dance captain, so I’m teaching our new girl Tara Macri. She had a put-in yesterday. She has three roles and made a couple mistakes, but I told her, ‘It’s okay! It was your put-in and you had three roles!’

Every time you’re on, it’s opening night. Every time you’re out there, you’re SO present in the show!

I got to play Nick five times last week. It was so fun, but you’re so in the moment! And the guys and the whole cast are wonderful, but every moment, you’re like, ‘What’s next? This is the next line; this is the next harmony.’

Six different sets of harmony, lines, and blocking. Also, the spike marks—tape on the stage where the set pieces end up. There are a ton of them for a swing, and now that I’m the dance captain, I have to know every single one! So, it’s a lot!

JBB Tech Half: Are they color-coded for each player?

JB: They’re color-coded for each different scene. The Sea Breeze club is blue; the Strand is orange; and Nevada for ‘Ape’, the chairs are red X’s. Of course, they’re easy to see in the light, but in the show, with all the shadows, you’re running out there with a chair saying, ‘Where do I put this?’ You know, every actor in the show moves the set, even the Seasons.

JBB: Is it never a dull moment?

JB: There are some dull moments. I’ve had 43 shows off before, just sitting backstage waiting to go on. You can’t just sit around, because when you go on, it can be dangerous if you don’t know your stuff and do your job well.

That is dull, sitting around, waiting to go on. Everybody in the show is really talented and the swings are really talented, too. But that can be a dull moment—hanging around backstage.

When you’re on at any role, from Knuckles to Nick for me, it’s fantastic, because you’re really in the moment.

JBB: So you said you play six roles?

JB: I understudy Nick Massi, Bob Crewe, Gyp, Hank, Norm, and Knuckles.

JBB: You play Crewe, too? I had no idea!

JB: I LOVE playing Crewe! That’s probably my favorite, ‘cause he’s so fabulous!

JBB: What is it about the Crewe character?

JB: It’s a really interesting role in the show, because he’s not a clown, but he’s the comedic relief. He comes in, from his first line, ‘Hey, Toto, you’re not in Newark anymore.’

The audience is like, ‘Wait a minute. Who is guy in the pink shirt acting so sassy?’

But he’s such a businessman and he’s so straight forward. Putting Tommy in his place is hilarious. The audience has gotten to know Tommy’s personality by the time Crewe comes in. So, it’s great when Crewe gets to sit him down a couple times and tell him who’s boss.

I’m doing the vacation for Crewe at the end of the month and my aunt asked me, ‘Is that a singing role?’

I told her, ‘Well, yeah, but he doesn’t have solos. He was the producer, so I’ll sing, but you’re not going to hear me sing a huge solo or anything. That’s not his job—that’s the Seasons’ job.’ His job is to come in and lighten up things.

I love watching our actor Craig [Laurie] play the role—he’s hilarious! He’s a great blueprint for a swing to watch!

To hear the audience just belly laugh! ‘Play the fu*king song already!’ It’s a great moment; he definitely stops the show.

JBB: You play so many different roles—what about your favorite line?

JB: I think it’s Crewe’s line: It’s a metaphor, just the way he does it. The boys are fighting and he says, ‘Look Miss Congeniality—it’s a met- ta-phor!’ And, of course, they direct you to say it like you’re totally exasperated; you’re pounding this into his brain. It’s my favorite line for sure—he’s just so exasperated!

JBB: What about your favorite musical number?

JB: You know what? I think “Dawn” is…I love the music, but the way it’s staged—There are three sections: the cameras, the audience, and the audience is in reverse and thrown on stage…when those lights hit the audience. When I saw the show the first time…Oh My Gosh, this is such a cool moment, but you don’t realize why it’s so cool…you’re just hit with the lights. And there are people running across backstage. You realize, wow… maybe fame is not the way it seems.

JBB Tech Half: It’s a 180!

JB: Exactly, that’s a brilliant directing move from Des [McAnuff] that I think is so excellent!

Same thing with “Sherry.” Sherry starts with the cameras, then you ARE in the audience, instead of watching it on television.

There are just so many moments. Ed Sullivan and Dawn. My parents come and see the show and they say this is their music. They get chills and tell me, ‘This really happened—We remember this!’

JBB Tech Half: We’ve been in the audience and we hear people say, ‘Is that real?’ It’s just so well done!

JB: It’s so FANTASTIC! Of course, the contingency plans. Once in a blue moon, the video doesn’t work. If you don’t hear it, it’s the same amount of music. That rarely happens. If you’re ever here before the show, about 6:30 or 7, you’ll hear them testing the Ed Sullivan video.

There are so many dangerous, amazing things in this show. You don’t think of it like Les Miz and the turntable or Phantom and the chandelier. But there are all these hydraulics, and lights, and screens coming in—there’s a lot of amazing, expensive dangerous stuff in this show.

JBB: What about your favorite scene—would that be Dawn as well?

JB: Yeah, I think that whole sequence, with Bob talking to the audience, ‘pushed us over the top!’, and the lights go, and it’s just amazing, because the audience is like…’Okay, what’s next?’ The light goes off and he disappears. We surprise them; we haven’t shown them behind. It’s probably my favorite song and scene.

JBB: You’ve been with the Jersey Boys company for the last nine months. Have you discovered something about yourself that you didn’t know before?

JB: Oh, definitely. As a swing, just to be a team player. You come in, and sometimes you have to save the show at the last minute. Not saving the show, but you’re doing your job at the last minute. My first week here was crazy! I’ve learned that I can work under pressure.

Most of the time, the audience will be seeing me for the first time. Even if you make a small mistake, or if a word is messed up, it’s not the end of the world—you get to fix it next time.

My first three days on the job I played Knuckles the first day; the next day I played Hank; and I played Norm my third day—in my FIRST week! My costumes weren’t even finished.

I actually learned the horneography—you know the horn section (did the horn sound) in “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” during intermission on my first day. A couple of actors were out, so they told me, ‘We need you to do Knuckles tonight.’

The dance captain at the time, John Michael Coppola, was awesome. He was in the wings waiting for me. At intermission, he said, ‘Okay, one, five, just keep doing this. For “Working My Way,” it’s going to be up, side, side, one, two three, then you’re going to kick, kick, right left right, kick, kick, left right left.’

(Chuckled) Okay, I got up there and it’s my first performance in the show, pretending to play a saxophone, faking it, and looking peripherally at the guy playing Barry Belson or Joey, just making sure that I’m lined up with them. It was crazy first night, definitely!

JBB: Your first week here sounded insane! Have things been relatively calm since then?

JB: I think one other week, I did five of my six tracks in one week, which is really cool. It’s rare, because the planets really have to be in alignment, as Crewe says, for that to happen. Then you’ll have a dry spell, where nobody calls out sick, which is great for the show. It’s good to have consistency, but as a swing, you’re back there checking your email or singing harmonies again, waiting.

JBB: Or making a good Facebook update?

JB: (Chuckled)…Exactly! A good Facebook update for sure!


  1. Really enjoyed this interview with Jared! It was interesting to find out about what he does as a swing and now as the dance captain. I bet he would be great as Bob Crewe!

    Comment by TeresaJ — August 6, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

  2. This was a fun interview. Looking forward to the other ones.

    Comment by JM — August 6, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

  3. It’s been great to find out about the incredibly talented cast in Chicago. Thanks

    Comment by Rich — August 6, 2009 @ 9:55 pm

  4. I love reading about the Chicago cast! Jared seems like he’s in a great place in his career and is enjoying the ride.

    Comment by RoseMarie — August 9, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  5. it looks like so much fun, that you don’t realize it really is work for them.

    Comment by maxine — August 14, 2009 @ 12:24 am

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